Friday, October 30, 2009

Monster Slime!

Here's a cooking craft activity that would be fun any time of year but we did it today to celebrate Halloween with our friends.

This recipe came from a book called Loo-Loo, Boo, and Art You Can Do by Denis Roche.  It is a sweet book written for middle elementary kids who can read and craft on their own.  But when I saw the recipe for "Stinky Clay" I knew we had to try it too.

We renamed the "Stinky Clay" monster slime (this has to be said in a spooking voice for full effect) and spent quite awhile making it and playing with it.

We did this activity sitting around the dining room table.  We took turns stirring, touching, smelling, measuring and pouring.  Then we each got our own to knead to the right consistency.    The kids learned about texture and consistency as we had to keep adding flour to get it just right.  They also learned about colors and coloring mixing.  When Chad asked Addy about the MONSTER SLIME several hours later she told him mostly about the colors we added and what happened to the slime as we added more colors.

This made just the right amount to be split three ways.  If there were more kids I'd double the recipe or do it twice with separate groups so everyone could enjoy!

I didn't get any pictures taken but will try to add some of Addy playing with it tomorrow.    We had to make more on our own to get pictures but it was fun the second time too.

Stinky Clay
3 TBL baking powder
1/2 cup pickle juice or vinegar
1 - 1 1/2 cup of flour
1 TBL vegetable oil
food coloring or poster paint

Put the baking powder in a large bowl.  Add the vinegar/pickle juice.  Watch it fizz!  Mix in the flour and oil until it is soft but not too sticky.  Add colors until it is as ugly as you want it to be.  Ours ended up an appropriate purple-green.  Store it in an airtight container or plastic bag.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cinnamon Honey Ice Cream

Ice cream maybe more of a summer time treat but I wanted to share this recipe with you despite the fall weather we've been having.

I make the custard part of this dessert while Addy sleeps or is otherwise occupied.  Once it is cool she helps me mix in the final seasonings, cream and pour it into the ice cream maker.

I recommend using local honey, fresh organic milk and cream and quality eggs.  I think because there are so few ingredients it is important that they be the best you can find.  Local honey also has the added benefit of helping to lessen seasonal allergies.

Making ice cream is a fun family project no matter what kind of ice cream maker you have.  I love our electric one, but the hand crank ones are good fun too.  Addy can begin to learn the states of matter as we watch a liquid turn into a solid.  It is never to early to explain science using the correct terms.  As our librarian reminded us at storytime this morning, if a child has never heard a word, they won't be able to read it or understand it.  Don't skip over words as you read or speak just because you think your child won't understand.  If anything stop and explain the word in other terms but then help them to use the new word as well.

Cinnamon Honey Ice Cream

4 egg yolks
scant 1/2 cup honey
2 cups milk divided
dash of salt
1 cup of cream
1/2 T vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

In a small put heavy sauce pan slightly mix the egg yolks, honey, salt, and one cup of the milk.  Slowly heat to just boil over medium heat.  Stir constantly.  Pour into 4 cup measuring cup and refrigerate until cool. Stir in the cream, one more cup of milk, vanilla and cinnamon.  Don't worry if the cinnamon clumps, the ice cream maker will blend it more smoothly.  Pour into ice cream maker and follow the directions for your freezer.  This is best for a 1 qt. ice cream freezer.  After freezing in ice cream maker move ice cream to a freezer safe container and freeze for another hour or two until solid or serve soft serve style direct from the ice cream maker.

In the summer this is great with fresh peaches and an extra drizzle of honey.  I also think it would be great with other fall inspired deserts like apple crisp.

Honestly I usually throw my extra egg whites in the compost but here is a website that can give you more useful suggestions.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The finished product

Here are a couple pictures of our birthday celebration.  The cupcakes and party both turned out great.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Addy's Birthday Party

This week we have been preparing for Addy's 2nd birthday party!  It is truly amazing to look back across these two years of days that we have known our little bug.  She brings such joy to our lives.  We'll celebrate with a party tomorrow afternoon with chili, vegetable soup, and cupcakes.

We spent this morning together making pumpkin cupcakes for her birthday.  Here is the link for the cupcakes.  (Thank you to Mary for her permission to link to her site.)  The only change I made was to add a little milk to the second batch.  Perhaps it is the altitude here but the milk seemed to lighten the texture up just a bit.  Our first batch was a little dense like pumpkin bread.  The second batch came out more cake like.  They taste great either way!  Addy ate two full cupcakes in a row this morning!

While we worked this morning, we focused a lot on counting and singing.  Addy knows a lot of the number order but often skips numbers along the way and usually starts with two. I reinforced starting with one as we measured and scooped our way through the recipe.  I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup rather than a full cup for the flour and the sugar to provide more opportunities to count.

Lately Addy has been picking up new songs and with them new vocabulary like a little sponge.  I want to take advantage of this by singing to her throughout the day.  Here are our new cooking songs:

(sing to Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush)
This is the way we mix the batter, mix the batter, mix the batter
This is the way we mix the batter so early in the morning.


(I can't figure out the original song for this one!  I'll let you know as soon as it comes to me.)
slowly, slowly, stir the flour
slowly, slowly stir the flour
slowly, slowly stir the flour
yum, yum, yum, yum, yum

carefully, carefully crack the egg
carefully, carefully crack the egg
carefully, carefully crack the egg
yum yum yum yum yum

Obviously these are both songs that you can easily change the words to fit your situation.  Songs are a great way to help children through transitions ( ie this is the way we put on our shoes . . . ) and to help them keep focused during a project.  What are your favorite kids songs and how do you like to use them?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fall has arrived!

It's Saturday again and we made another big breakfast.  I promise that my next post will not be about breakfast but I couldn't resist trying pumpkin pancakes this morning. They turned out well so I want to share them with you.

Addy has come to expect cooking on weekend mornings. She climbed into her Learning Tower first thing this morning and started to dig into the spice drawer.  Most of the cabinets at her level are still safety latched but I keep the towel drawer, the kids cup drawer and the spice drawer open for her. It definitely provides her with a sense of accomplishment when she can get out what she needs.  The cup and towel drawers are at her level.  She has to be in the tower to get to the spices.

Even if you don't do a lot of cooking with your kids I recommend letting them have some autonomy in the kitchen so that they learn to do things on their own.  Just be clear and realistic with your expectations.  For example, if your child is going through the stage where they have to take everything out of the container and strew it around, only keep a few cups in the drawer.  Otherwise you'll be picking up and washing way too much.  Once they've passed that you can keep the drawer full.

Yesterday we went to a local pumpkin patch with some of our friends.  We didn't pick any pumpkins put we did pose with them for pictures.  Maybe that's why I had pumpkin on the mind this  morning.  These pancakes start with the basic pancake recipe that we like so I'll list that first with the pumpkin addition at the end.  We served them with whipped cream bananas and honey.  I like walnuts on mine but Chad and Addy skipped that part.

The original part of the recipe comes from the Betty Crocker cookbook.

1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour/ replace up to half with whole wheat flour
3/4 cup milk
1 TBL brown sugar
2 TBL vegetable oil
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Beat egg until foamy.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.  (You can use an electric mixer but we use a whisk so Addy can do the stirring safely.)  Let the mixture rest a few minutes while you heat the griddle to medium heat.  When you drop a few drops of water on the griddle they should jump around.  Cook pancakes until bubbles form on the first side then flip until evenly brown.

Pumpkin addition:
After beating the egg until foaming add:
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
grated nutmeg
1 TBL brown sugar

Finish mixing with other ingredients and cook as described above.

What do you do to celebrate fall?